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Namibia’s Isolated Himba Tribe Uses Bright Red Clay To Create Incredible Hairstyles


Namibia’s Isolated Himba Tribe Uses Bright Red Clay To Create Incredible Hairstyles

The nomadic tribe has clay as a major part of their life.

A beautiful woman smiled to the camera as photographer Franco Cappellari took a picture of her with her unique hairstyle in locks of bright red clay. She is also a woman of Himba tribe from Namibia, an indigenous group of nomadic people protected by the government.

Living in a country, or land, that is always scarce of water, the people learn to adapt to their surroundings by making mixtures of Otjize. Otjize is mainly comprised of clay and red ochre and is not only used for braiding, but also for beauty.

Close by, huts made of earth and cattle dung stands. This tribe is also close with Herrero tribe with whom they speak the same language.

A beautiful married Himba woman with her dreadlocks veneered in Otjize and a headdress made of animal skin.

Otjize is made of butterfat, red ochre, and herbs. The resulting red color is a favorite of the tribeswomen as it symbolizes the earth and blood.

Due to water scarcity and dry weather, Otjize is also used as a sun protector. Here is a woman having her hair braided and veneered by others.

This young girl has ozondato which comprises of two simple braids that follow the clan she is from. It will cover her face once she grows up to prevent attentions from men.

Himba is a patriarchal and polygamous tribe, so a ‘rich’ man who has a lot of cattle. The women’s job is to raise kids and milk the cattle at dawn.

The men are rarely home and spend time herding the flocks. In this picture, the women are clapping to a dancing woman in yellow.

This is the mixture being stirred in a cauldron ready to be applied.

Their beauty standard is determined by the red of the clay. The women also wear elaborate styles that change according to their age and marital status.

They speak to their God ‘Mukuru’ through a flame called ‘Okuruwo’. The kind people of the tribe are protected from westernization by the government.

Photographer Franco Cappellari had the privilege to visit the African tribe that has a total population of 50,000. He was guided by an Italian 61-year-old guide from Venafro, Italy. While some boys wear T-shirts, the community is being strictly protected by the government from overexposure.

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